This week-end I spent time putting together my presentation about Art Therapy Without Borders’ International Postcard Exchange for the Canadian Art Therapy Association and Ontario Art Therapy Association joint conference coming up during the first week of November. I am really looking forward to presenting this paper focusing on the project, its impact, and the role of art and social networking to connect the art therapy community worldwide.
As I began to organize presentation content to highlight and include, I started to go through half of the postcards received over 6 months on behalf of ATWB from art therapists and art therapy students from all around the world. I re-visited each one in my careful piles: where the postcard arrived from, the art created, media used, as well as the experiences/stories shared on the back about the individual’s work, studies, or interests related to art therapy.
I also remembered it was this time last year when the exchange started, mailing lists I organized from those who signed up were just sent out to over 300 participants, and the first postcards for the exchange were already starting to come in. Last October, I could have never imagined the overall impact, enthusiasm, and outreach that launching this exchange of mail art would have on facilitating connection, building community, and empowering the international art therapy community.
Collectively re-visiting the postcards in one sitting and no longer in “organizing” mode gave me a new and simplified appreciation for the project and to reflect on what inspired me to organize the exchange in the first place. Introduce a fun, creative way for art therapists and art therapy students to learn more about each other and use the power of social media and art-making to network, connect, and create/receive art.
I was inspired to do a different kind of and much-needed type of “organizing” that included finally finding a good solution to display and store the postcards I’ve had since the exchange closed April. Many times, I have attempted different options, with no success and struggled with frustration on how to bring everything together in a way that made sense. Finally the idea to use 12×12 plastic sleeves (so both sides of the postcard could be viewed), some clear adhesive dots, and a scrapbooking album, came to mind as something that might actually work (duh). After a trip to the craft aisle and a few hours later, an entire album was filled edge to edge with 26 pages of beautiful postcard art.
To view the postcards I received together in this way was amazing and creating this album helped me honor as well as process my own experience with the project as a participant, recipient, and organizer. Thank you again to everyone who participated and contributed to this exchange.
To view all the postcard art from the exchange, you can check them all out here via Art Therapy Without Border’s Web Album on Google.